Though I do sometimes get emotional watching films and TV shows, I usually manage to hold it together in company. I might have a lump in my throat and glassy eyes, but unless the person in the room with me is watching me rather than the telly, they’d never know.
Last night, though, I lost my composure completely during Doctor Who’s season finale, Doomsday. If you haven’t seen it and are spoilerphobic, skip the next paragraph.
As you may know, Doctor Who – the 21st century series – is produced by BBC Wales. My wife Tara and I thought it would be fun to draw up a list of some of the South Wales locations that the series has used and pay them a visit – have ourselves a Doctor Who holiday, the centrepiece of which would be a trip to the Up Close exhibition that’s currently running in Cardiff Bay’s Red Dragon Centre. So that’s what we did.
Armed with a wad of printed-out screenshots and a weekly bus/train pass, we set out from base camp each morning with two or three targets in mind, grabbing photos and video footage along the way that I’ll turn into a film when I’ve got some time going spare.
Those were the days. Thumbing through piles of stickers in the playground, swapping my ‘gots’ for ‘needs’ – pleasure didn’t come much greater. It went on for months, too – my album getting slowly fatter as my stack of doubles, and therefore my chances of swapping with other kids, grew.
The weird thing is, though I collected all kinds of stickers at school, from football and Disney to ET, I don’t recall completing a single album. The knack with these things is to keep buying or swapping until you have just 25 left to get. When you reach this point, the manufacturer lets you send off for the remaining stickers. I can only assume that I never actually made it that far with any of my albums, which is why I feel like a king today.
I saw X-Men – The Last Stand on Saturday. As usual, it was freezing in the (Vue) auditorium, the air-conditioning blasting away throughout. At least, being an early screening, the audience was quiet and respectful – if you make it out to a cinema before lunchtime, chances are you’re interested in actually seeing a film.
I didn’t know much about this second X-Men sequel, other than the fact that Bryan Singer’s not involved and it’s been getting middling reviews, which I can understand because, while the film packs just as much visual wallop as X2, it’s not as satisfying.
Some plot points that beg further exploration/explanation are neglected or glossed over, while in one instance a subtle reversal of roles is made explicit by one of the characters commenting on it in a clunky manner, lessening its impact. Magneto’s band of mutants are characterised, for the most part, as a stereotypically grimy street gang, and Vinnie Jones jars as Juggernaut – a role that will, I imagine, provide much mirth for his critics in years to come.
As free gifts with kids’ magazines go, this is the most inspired I’ve seen for some time… not that I’m a regular buyer of such literature, you understand. But, well, I’m talking about Doctor Who Adventures here – a new fortnightly publication that was begging me to sample it. The first issue came with a free stationery set. The second, out now if you can find a copy (it seems to be very popular), has this stunning piece of merchandise taped to the front.
“What is it?” I hear you cry. “Isn’t it obvious?” I respond, incredulously. “It’s a Slitheen gas exchange.”
“No one would have believed, in the last years of the 19th century, that human affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of space…”
As a kid, I often heard these words, spoken by actor Richard Burton, rattling out of the speaker of a mono tape recorder in my bedroom. The cassette it was playing was an orange-labelled BASF C120. For the full, immersive experience, I’d go downstairs and play it on my dad’s music centre, which had a lovely rich sound and plenty of bass, and clamp a pair of chunky brown headphones to my ears. It was manna from Mars.